Me Monstar: Hear Me Roar! – updated PlayStation®Store release information!

May 3rd, 2011

Following the recent publicised Sony PlayStation®Network issues, the release dates of Me Monstar: Hear Me Roar! have unfortunately been delayed.

Developed by Cohort Studios; Me Monstar: Hear Me Roar! is a single player arcade style action minis game that will be available on both PlayStation®3 and PSP® (PlayStation®Portable).

Master Shoo and Monstar are eagerly awaiting confirmation on the revised dates for when their Roaring game will be released.  They will be in touch as soon as ‘monsterously’ possible…

For more information on Me Monstar: Hear me Roar!:

Me Monstar: Hear Me Roar! – coming soon to the PlayStation®Store!

April 27th, 2011

Master Shoo is excited to announce the forthcoming release of Me Monstar: Hear Me Roar!  Roaring, slashing, burping and vomiting its way onto the onto the PlayStation®Store next week; the minis game will be available on both PlayStation®3 and PSP® (PlayStation®Portable).

Developed by Cohort Studios; Me Monstar: Hear Me Roar! is a single player arcade style action game where the player takes control of a Monster during their rites of passage to become a Monstar Guardian.  The game takes place in a world formed from people’s dreams and imagination; where farts are deadly weapons and Fear is your enemy.  As a monster embarking upon their rites of passage to become a MONSTAR; feed on Dreams, beat the opposition and grow in power to do battle with the invading Fears and Nightmares!

Under the watchful eye of Master Shoo; punch, fart, and holler your way through 30 rip-roaring stages.  Monstrously addictive features include:

  • Claws – punches that now perforate your enemies
  • Charge – sharpen your horns and launch into a turbo, fart-powered, head-butting frenzy
  • Roar – unleash a verbal assault to cause complete moral indignation
  • Vindaloonatic Curry – atomic blast that will clear the room and your belly
  • Chunder Cheese – chain reaction projectile vomit
  • Napalm Chilli – fiery burps a dragon would be proud of
  • Hoots mon Haggis – utter invincibility
  • Ice Scream – attracts all Dreams right to you

 

For more information:

Cohort Studios Ltd enters 2011 by roaring, slashing, burping and vomiting – oh, and recruiting a Marketing Manager!

January 31st, 2011

Scottish games developer Cohort Studios Ltd begins 2011 with the appointment of a new recruit.

Grant Alexander joins the Cohort team as their inaugural Marketing Manager.  With over 10 years of experience in Marketing and Advertising, Grant relishes this opportunity to work in this dynamic and evolving industry.  Specialising in retail, tourism and youth marketing, he aims to bring together traditional games marketing approaches with some new and innovative ideas.

Grant commented: “This really is an exciting time to be joining Cohort Studios.  In addition to the larger development projects, the studio has been developing a couple of high quality games that are due for release in the next few months – so be sure to keep a lookout for a ‘monster’ of a PS3 Minis game!

Always looking for new opportunities, Cohort are currently expanding their publishing business with the first of their self-funded and self-published titles due for release during Q2 2011.

Lol Scragg, CEO of Cohort Studios, added: “Grant is an important addition to our team as we move towards the release of our first self-published title. His marketing experience and enthusiasm for the games industry is already having a great effect within the studio as we move in a different direction following a challenging 2010”.

For more information about Cohort Studios, go to www.cohortstudios.com

The Shoot – why we did what…

September 30th, 2010

The way I like to describe The Shoot to people is ‘imagine if Universal Studios did shooting galleries’ and you pretty much get the idea. The game takes place on fake movie sets that are massively destroyable, that the player has to work their way through, shooting targets and getting the highest score possible whilst acting like an action hero in one of the movies. Things explode, shatter and collapse as you would expect to see in action movies. We worked closely with the guys at Havok to integrate their Destruction technology to get level of detail and interaction we wanted.

The game is light hearted and aimed at a wide audience; something the family can play, so all the targets are fake. They are made of wood, metal and mechanical parts, so no blood and guts or killing is involved. It’s the kind of thing you would find if you were allowed to run around with a gun in a theme park attraction. Targets and scenery are massively destroyable, and if you just want to have a bit of fun shooting things to bits you can. If you’re after the high scores then you need to consistently hit targets without missing, avoid shooting negative targets, whilst increasing your multiplier and strategically using power-ups to maximise your score.

The game has Sony’s PlayStation Move at its core, which allows the player to accurately aim and shoot at targets on the TV screen. We were lucky to get hold of this hardware very early on, and have used a number of iterations as well as other solutions during development of The Shoot – we actually started out on the Gun Con.

There are three big differences for us with Move; firstly it’s the ease of calibration. If you use something like the Gun Con which is a great bit of kit, it still requires a degree of skill to calibrate it. If you don’t get the calibration right it will ruin your experience. With the Move you just point at the screen and pull the trigger and it’s calibrated for you, which is quite important for more casual players.

Secondly it’s the accuracy – it’s like using a laser pointer and depending on the smoothing settings, the controller will actually pick up the tremors in your hand. So having an accurate and responsive controller is great for a game that is based around accuracy.

The third is the controller’s ability to accurately know where it is in 3D space. This allowed us to start looking at what we internally call ‘performance gameplay’. One of our early directions was “it’s not just what you shoot, but how you shoot it”. We’ve only just scratched the surface on this with The Shoot, but having what the player does in the real world influence the gameplay is pretty interesting. As an example the game can detect whether the player spins on the spot and shoots a target, and ducking, dodging and punching are easily detected.

What this allows you to do is detect not just if a player is shooting a target, but what they are doing while they are doing it. There is a lot of R+D work that didn’t make it into The Shoot, we initially had the multiplier directly linked to your performance, so for example if you shot a target doing a quickdraw you would get a 5 times multiplier, or if you spun on the spot and hit a target you got a 10 times multiplier. This was dropped because it was difficult to understand and not easily accessible, but in terms of exploring what you can do with motion control it was really interesting.

I’ve noticed a certain amount of negativity towards motion control, and I think a lot of it is misplaced. Motion control is not going to replace current well established control methods, and shouldn’t be seen as a threat to the types of games people already know and love. What it does do is increase the way players can interface with games, potentially providing new experiences which can only be a good thing.

Darran Thomas, CCO

What we’ve been up to!

March 19th, 2010

We’ve recently returned from this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, where our secret project was finally unveiled. We’re proud to reveal that we’ve been working in close co-operation with SCEE’s Liverpool studio on a title for Sony’s PlayStation Move motion controller. That game is called The Shoot.

The Shoot Screenshot

The levels in The Shoot that we played at Sony’s GDC event involved moving through a subway station, then fighting cyborgs on top of a moving subway car. Later levels saw us taking down a giant bank-robbing robot, a boss battle that used the “shoot from the hip” mechanic. Basically, the player is required to keep the Move controller at their side, pointed off screen, then perform a fast draw in time with an onscreen indicator…

…As far as console light games go, The Shoot was a success.

http://kotaku.com/5490622/playstation-moves-the-shoot-has-a-major-twist

The Shoot is running on Praetorian Tech™, our self-developed engine for the PlayStation 3 and we’ve also integrated Havok Destruction to make sure the action is suitably hectic and filled with all manner of flying debris. See The Shoot in action below:

Does 3DTV provide Opportunities for Game Developers?

February 9th, 2010

Peter Walsh – Cohort Studios

New 3DTV hardware will be available for purchase through 2010 driven by the success of cinema releases like Avatar. Sky TV is launching the world’s first 3D television station in April which will drive adoption further. It seems certain that with all sections of industry getting ready to rally behind 3DTV it is something game developers will have start putting in their sights.

Game developers are uniquely poised to develop content to take advantage of 3DTV. Filmmakers, sports broadcasters, animation studios, and just about anyone else involved in TV need to make significant investments replacing their infrastructure of cameras, editing equipment, and so on to handle 3D data. Game developers on the other hand already have all that information readily available. In fact we spend a great deal of time trying to make 3D worlds display well on a 2D screen. To make games work with 3D TV we already have the depth information available – we just need the means to convey that data to the new TVs. Therefore our barriers to entry are very low – 3DTV therefore is a great opportunity for the video games industry.

2010 also looks to be hotting up to be the year of the great motion controller battle. While Nintendo’s Wii has been entrenched in the market for some time, Sony and Microsoft have recently made specific announcements about their offerings. Sony pushed back its new controller to an autumn 2010 launch, and Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer promised at CES that Natal would be ready for the holidays. The question many are wondering is how will 3D TV interact with motion controller technology for games?

With varying degrees of “depth” projected by different TVs (and similar TVs of different sizes) it will be technically difficult to match up user perceptions of space with what the motion control hardware can capture. If this challenge can be overcome it could produce a new style of augmented reality. Otherwise it could be confusing if users cannot understand why they can’t accurately touch 3D objects. In time these limitations will be overcome.

Here at Cohort Studios, we think the new developments in controller technology and 3D TV have positive implications for the future. On there own, each provides a great leap forward for increasing game immersion – but together they can change the playing field. Work needs to be done to make the glasses less intrusive and harder wearing, and to standardise the output of 3D TVs so game developers have a predictable platform to work with. Overall we like what we see.

What does the future hold? With new 3DTV technology being heavily backed and all three console manufacturers now putting significant resources into motion based games in 2010 then more convergence between devices is certain. With its low costs to create 3DTV content compared to the broadcasting industry, game developers need to be early adopters of the technology so they can get a head start developing the next generations of 3D capable games.

Quotes from this article can be found on Tech Radar’s 3D gaming piece.

Cohort joins Havok’s Independent Developer Program

February 5th, 2010

Scotland’s Highly Ambitious Cohort Studios Joins Havok’s Independent Developer Program

San Francisco, CA (February 4, 2010) – Havok™ today announced that it has signed Cohort Studios into its Independent Developer Program.  Cohort will have access to the company’s full suite of cutting-edge, award-winning products and technologies including Havok Animation™, Havok AI™, Havok Behavior™, Havok Cloth™, Havok Destruction™, and Havok Physics™.

“A key part of Cohort’s business strategy revolves around the concept of ‘Partners in Development’ – working together with other key players in the games industry to help manage cost and risk”, said Lol Scragg, CEO of Cohort Studios.  “With this in mind, we’re extremely excited to have joined Havok’s Independent Developer Program.  By gaining access to Havok’s entire suite of technologies, we’ll be able to turn around concept demos and prototypes in much shorter timescales, at less financial risk, and expand our cross-platform expertise in the process.”

The Independent Developer Program enables independent game studios around the globe to execute their creative visions using Havok’s premium, developer-preferred middleware technology.  The Program helps studios minimise the overall risk and high cost associated with internal creation of the tools and technologies required to power today’s sophisticated video and PC games.

Bruce McNeish, Cohort Studios’ CTO adds, “Our in-house engine, Praetorian Tech™, has been designed from the ground up for extensibility and easy integration with middleware.  Havok’s program allows us full access to the company’s many fantastic technologies, and, in tandem with Praetorian, means we now have a very broad creative palette to draw from.  With the Havok agreement, we can integrate cutting-edge technology into our prototypes at an early stage.  This will give our teams more freedom to concentrate on the implementation of unique gameplay and internal technologies to differentiate us in the market, while giving publishers a far better idea of how the final product will play, mitigating risk all round.”

“We are absolutely thrilled to be working with the highly-motivated and creative team at Cohort,” said David O’Meara, Managing Director of Havok.  “Cohort’s focus on gameplay innovation and scalable production practices, when combined with Havok’s technologies and support system, will make a real difference to the gamer’s experience.”

Havok’s modular suite of tools puts power in the hands of creators, empowering them to reach new standards of believability and interactivity in video games.  Havok’s products include access to a powerful and flexible set of art tools tailored to work within a studio’s particular production pipeline and assistance from the most experienced support team in the middleware industry.  All of Havok’s software tools are fully multithreaded and cross-platform optimised.

Havok’s Web site (www.Havok.com) offers downloadable versions of Havok’s Animation, Behavior, and Physics software.

10 Years on?

January 29th, 2010

The push from Sony and Microsoft into the motion space could have significant influence over their next generation of hardware. The motion controller will inevitably provide a more accessible control mechanism, as it has with the Wii, and will help push more innovations in game design that have not really been possible with the aging joypad control method. However, I don’t think much focus has been given to the additional benefits we will get via camera interfaces. Technologies such as facial and speech recognition will not only be used to determine the emotion of the player and for issuing commands, but will also be enhanced to accurately map who is in the room. This will open up the possibility of the console becoming “one of the family”; something that has been demonstrated via the original Milo Natal demo.

Going back to the next generation of hardware, both MS and Sony obviously know what Nintendo did this generation, namely take the GameCube, improve the specs, add connectivity, motion control and rebrand it as the Wii. Given the potential innovation their new peripherals give, I believe that MS and Sony will follow suit and simply increase the clock speeds, memory resources and the number of CPU cores in a logical fashion, but keep the same basic architecture. These will be more upgraded 360s and PS3s rather than entirely new machines. This would help reduce the R&D costs associated with the development of a new console and help, Sony in particular, claw back some investment made in the current generation’s technologies by re-utilising it. This would be welcomed by third-party publishers, middleware providers and developers who would not need to invest heavily to transition to the new platforms but rather simply expand upon existing systems.

Talking of Nintendo, its future, on the other hand, is harder to envisage. Nintendo has openly decided to not go head-to-head with Sony and Microsoft and instead focus on making their products appeal as a ‘toy’. This has worked very well for them, first with the DS and then with the Wii. Both products faced some harsh criticism for being a ‘gimmick’ when initially announced and no-one, probably not even Nintendo, could have predicted how successful they would be. It will be interesting to see what they do next. The sales of the Wii seem to have peaked and are declining, which isn’t hard to believe given the size of its installed userbase; which I am sure Nintendo will want to captialise on for their next home console. However, the question of what will make current Wii owners upgrade to a new console is a hard one to answer. A recently released report has shown that the Wii is the least used home console. This leaves Nintendo with a tough challenge in answering the “I hardly use my Wii, in fact I haven’t used it that much at all. Why would I purchase a Wii 2 when I have not gotten value for money from my Wii?”

So, the ‘big three’ will be looking at developing another console within the next 2-3 years. What about newcomers trying to muscle in on the action? 2009 saw the rise of so called ‘Cloud gaming companies’, with OnLive and Gaikai being the most prominent. The fundamental premise for their approach is that you will not need a powerful console as all the processing power within one of their server farms. This leads to the consumer spending substantially less on a piece of hardware for their home as it has dramatically less work to do. Sure the concept is a very good one, from a consumer point of view. However, the main issue regarding this approach is latency; i.e. how quickly will the players’ screens show the effect of their inputs. There has been much debate via online forums on this point both for and against its validity. The latency figures have been released that are VERY low, which I can only assume pertains to the time that the server takes to process any received inputs from their clients. When you add in the latency of sending the player commands to the server farm and, more detrimentally, the time it will take to compress then send the updated image back to the client will it be possible to maintain a high quality level. Does this mean that there will need to be a server farm somewhat local to the clients? If so, what does this mean for online gaming? I guess that client inputs could be sent to multiple server farms with each online sending the results to locally connected clients? What does this mean for gaming resolutions or framerates? If there is one thing that core gamers hate it is inconsistent framerate and low resolutions. Will it be able to maintain HD resolutions, i.e. 720P 30FPS title, not to mention 1080P 60FPS? There is still a lot of scepticism and questioning surrounding the validity of ‘Cloud Gaming’ but if they get it working to an acceptable level and sort out the business model then it could spell trouble from the traditional console manufacturers.

There will no doubt be other newcomers in the next decade; will Apple look at combining its App Store and Apple TV setup to develop a home console? If there is any company that has the finances to back an entry into the home gaming market it is certainly Apple. The iPhone has been a phenomenal success, has allowed Apple the time to develop its App Store, and has also given a large number of developers experience of developing for their platform using the now mature SDK. This platform could easily be used as the basis of a home-based console, so I would be more surprised if they did NOT develop some kind of overt home gaming hardware.

From one type of up-and-coming digital distribution to another that is more established. It seems today that everybody is building their own App Store to help get straight to the consumer, cut out retail and retain a larger piece of the revenue pie. This includes Apple, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Blackberry, Nokia, Intel, Valve’s Steam platform and I dare say a few more. What does this actually mean for the future of the retail business? To answer this, we have to look at where the future of gaming will lie. It looks like there is a polarisation in the size of products available both in terms of cost to the consumer and in their respective development budgets. You can pick up smaller, cheaper to develop titles from the App Stores at an impulse buy price. As these titles have been cheaper to produce they do not need to sell as many titles to break even. Moreover, an independent developer could make a tidy profit going down the bite sized gaming route due to the lower risk and quicker turn around of product. On the other hand, the hardware manufacturers will always be looking to show off their consoles and will therefore commission titles that try and push the hardware to the limit. Outside of the first party published titles, there are several titles published across platform by third parties that are pushing for ’cinematic’ experiences. These high-asset, high-budget titles generally result in a longer, more expensive development cycle, with the end product relying on a large amount of data. Given the generally prohibitively large downloads that would be required to distribute such games, boxed product on high-density media is not going to be going away any time soon. Having said that, there are an increasing number of people that are opting to purchase titles and hardware via online stores or supermarkets, at a price lower than what the High Street can offer; so the question should not be about whether we need retail but rather; “do we still need the high street?” Traditional High Street retail is going to face an increasingly difficult time in the coming decade. They will have to rethink their strategies or face bankruptcy.

Bruce McNeish, CTO, Cohort Studios

Quotes from this article can be found in a recent Tech Radar story.

Have a Beastly Good Time with Buzz!™ Junior: Monster Rumble

September 7th, 2009

5 fiendishly fun mini-games available on PlayStation Store now

Dundee – Monday 7th September 2009:  Get your fingers on the buzzers and prepare to cause chaos in Monster Rumble, the third addition to the riotously fun Buzz!™ Junior collection, now available on PlayStation 3. Launching on Playstation Store at £3.99 parents and their little terrors can run riot in the weird and wonderful Monster Mansion to find out which of the colourful and crazy creatures is number one through a series of 5 fiendish mini-games for up to four players.

Developed by Dundee-based Cohort Studios, this re-release of the well-received PlayStation 2 original can be enjoyed by everyone, even those without official Buzz!™ controllers thanks to intuitive DualShock support. With beautifully rendered cartoon visuals and a great sense of humour, younger players will enjoy the fun aesthetics and hilarious mini-games on offer, while a range of difficulty settings make this challenging for parents.

Buzz!™ Junior: Monster Rumble is the second title to be created using the developer’s internal Praetorian™ technology, which is also being used on other internal projects. Bruce McNeish, CTO at Cohort Studios explains: “Having our own internal framework and technology provides us with many benefits. We can both turn around projects quickly as well as develop proposal demo’s with the minimum of fuss. Having complete control over our internal framework also gives us great flexibility when we are looking at middleware solutions which allow us to concentrate on creating fun content.

CEO at Cohort Studios Lol Scragg said: “We are pleased with the ongoing success of the Buzz!™ Junior series and are grateful that Sony continue to create games for an often overlooked younger audience. We feel that many kid’s games are falling into that ‘casual’ and therefore overly-simplistic pigeon hole. But while Monster Rumble is aimed at the three-plus market, it can still provide children with a decent challenge and hours of fun in equal measure, something many kids games fail to deliver. With kids skilfully picking up games at an increasingly early age, we have to warn parents that they might be outclassed by their young ones on this one. You have been warned.

Buzz!™ Junior: Monster Rumble Key Features and information
- Multiplayer madness for up to four players
- Buzz!™ Buzzer or DualShock controller support
- Unlockable trophies
- Fully customisable characters
- PEGI 3+ Rating

-ends-

We have joined TIGA!

July 31st, 2009

July 31, 2009

Cohort Studios Join TIGA

TIGA, the trade association representing the UK’s games industry, today announced Cohort Studios as its newest member.

Founded in Dundee in 2006 by Lol Scragg CEO, Darran Thomas CCO and Bruce McNeish CTO, Cohort Studios has enjoyed continued success and measured expansion over the last three years and is now Scotland’s third largest game developer.

Cohort Studios specialise in experiences that appeal to a wide audience and that are accessible to players of different skill levels. To date the studio has worked on titles for PS3, PSP, PC, PS2 and PSN including Buzz!™ Junior: RoboJam, Buzz!™ Junior: Ace Racers, Buzz! Junior: Dino Den, as well as Journeys Through Sound, an advergame project released on PC to support the relaunch of the Audi TT motor vehicle.

Lol Scragg CEO stated: “The companies’ success is largely due to a unique company culture and ethos, which promotes strong teamwork, professionalism, creativity and positivity. Another key element is our business strategy ‘Partners in Development’ where we look to partner and collaborate with other companies and studios rather than staff up internally, which increases overheads and depersonalises the company culture”.

On joining TIGA Scragg stated: “We have always felt that TIGA’s agenda makes complete sense for the industry, however recent achievements in terms of Government lobbying and TIGA’s efforts to engage Holyrood have convinced us that now is the right time for us to join.”

Richard Wilson, CEO TIGA, stated: “Cohort Studios is an exciting company with a fresh approach to issues such as skills shortages and education, something which is also very much at the heart of the TIGA agenda. We will be working closely with Cohort Studios to achieve key objectives for the gaming industry both in Scotland and throughout the UK.”

Ends

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